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December 1, 2004 — 7 PM

Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding

My recent absence in this pixel-driven corner of the world is owing to a visit Over There which was made in preparation for a fairly major change in my life.

I spent the last week in Nottingham, the fair English city to which I will be moving in January to try out a new life burdened by neither arctic fronts nor CanWest Global.

It is convenient that Canada and the United Kingdom share a queen, but even a mere week spent in Her Majesty’s land is enough to suggest that we share little else. For one, the British drive backwards, and though it seems like they’re all used to it, they also take exceptional pains to remind everyone by posting “keep left” arrows everywhere. Is this some strange patriotism? “Remember, lads, we keep to the left for Her Majesty, unlike those uncivilised brutes from the rest of the world!” In Canada we are content to assume that we all know which side of the road to drive on. We also don’t try to confuse already-befuddled foreigners by parking our cars facing the wrong direction just sometimes, but not always. We also don’t use words like cute words like “bonnet” and “boot” in a vehicular context.

So has Canada completely lost touch with the motherland? Well, not entirely. We still use extra ‘U’s in our spelling, and we still share a fondness for strangely-flavoured potato chips.

(Well, except of course they don’t call them chips; they’re crisps, thank you very much. And chips are fries. And if you’re a fan of crackers like I am, get used to keeping a straight face while asking for “savoury biscuits”.)

Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Flavor Crisps In Canada, we have ketchup and dill pickle flavour chips, and in a pinch we can make do with sour cream and onion or BBQ. Recently, I’ve noticed newfangled regional fare like “Quebec Four Cheese” infiltrating our shelves as well, apparently in a marketing effort to exploit our regionally-patriotic sensibilities. Clearly though, we have nothing on the British, who have actually tried to cram an entire national dish — roast beef and Yorkshire pudding — into small, flat, deep-fried potato-slice form.

Never mind that potatoes are supposed to accompany this meal, not contain it. I suppose that bags of “Mashed Potato” flavour chips wouldn’t really sell anyway. Maybe if they tried adding mushy peas?


England is SO weird! You’re going to be in hysterics until you adjust, which takes a surprisingly short period of time. Then you’ll come back to visit eating marmite and talking about your new “trousers” in a pretentious transatlantic accent. :P

— Megan | Dec. 2, 2004 — 6 AM

Savoury biscuits. That is hilarious, my friend. Remember also that it is “nappy” and not “diaper,” and “spigot” rather than “tap.”

As for the constant reminders to keep left, I think that these are principally for the benefit of the majority of foreigners, who are always tempted to drive on the correct side of the road. I have a couple of English relatives who could have used some reminders to “keep right” during sojourns in the United States.

— ERK | Dec. 2, 2004 — 9 PM

Don’t tell anyone there that you wear suspenders to hold up your pants.

Chris | Dec. 5, 2004 — 5 PM

Is Walker’s the British Lay’s? Same logo?

— Brett | Dec. 6, 2004 — 3 PM

I wondered the same thing. I did a little googling, and yes, Walker’s and Lay’s are both owned by big bad Pepsi Co.

That must be the British equivalent of having Tim Horton’s owned by Wendy’s.

— Luke | Dec. 6, 2004 — 3 PM

Ooohhh - I’m sorry guys but as a UK reader I had to correct a couple of things…

Crackers - if you mean the little dry biscuits that you eat with cheese - we call them crackers too! If you see a “posh” packet of crackers they might call them “savoury biscuits” but the most people would call them crackers!

We also use the term Fries, mainly for the fast-food type skinny fries. Chips are mainly thicker and the sort that you would eat with good old “Fish and Chips”

The keep left signs usually only appear at roundabouts or in one-way traffic systems….or very congested city centres where people might get confused. Most normal roads assume you know the correct side to drive on.

Spigot? Do you mean taps that you get water from, at a sink? We call them taps also and no-one would know what a spigot was (well, I don’t!).

Awww.. I feel better now, back to my Marmite flavoured crisps…….

— Michelle | Dec. 7, 2004 — 12 PM

Must be a generational thing Michelle. Is it possible that young Britons are being coerced by such vulgar North Americanisms as “crackers”?

I can only say that I got a really blank look from one octogenarian Brit when I asked if she had any crackers. “Any what? What do you mean by ‘crackers’?”

— Luke Andrews | Dec. 9, 2004 — 11 AM

Well, Luke, some Canadians do still have a bit in common with our British buds across the way, who refer to the hood of a car as a bonnet and to fries as chips, which we eat with dressing and gravy.

Newfoundlanders. You can chalk it up to being an island, I guess.

Scotia | Dec. 9, 2004 — 2 PM

Luke, I bet the old dear misheard you and thought you were calling her “crackers”, which would not have been very nice at all!

Anyway, what were you eating that required crackers?

Our most famous cracker is the “Jacob’s Cream Cracker” and it has been around for donkey’s years. In fact, it has even been enshrined in Cockney Rhyming Slang. “Cream Crackered” is used to say that you are “knackered” – which means “very tired indeed”!!!

— Michelle | Dec. 10, 2004 — 11 AM

Previously: Cream, Sugar or 5.2% Fixed-Rate?

Subsequently: RobotJohhny

December 2004
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